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Hinchey seeks $2.2 million federal boost for BU sensor research

Advanced sensor and threat detection research at Binghamton University could receive up to a $2.2 million federal boost, thanks to the support of U.S. Representative Maurice Hinchey, NY-22.

Hinchey, a member of the House Appropriations Committee, has succeeded in earmarking the funds for BU’s Advanced Sensor Design and Threat Detection Facility in the Defense Department’s spending bill for fiscal year 2004.

“The researchers at Binghamton University are working on some innovative and important projects, including this one, which has great potential for enhancing the safety of our troops,” Hinchey told a gathering of media, campus administrators and industry representatives July 7. “At the local level, this influx of money will have significant economic benefits for the Southern Tier. The University is uniquely situated to effect positive change in the area’s economy.”

President Lois B. DeFleur praised Hinchey for his help in securing the federal support, which she said is crucial as the University pushes its research agenda into new fields. “To make that happen, we need a combination of state aid, industrial collaboration, research grants and federal support,” DeFleur said.

Senate action on the earmark will determine the final dollar amount BU will receive. Even without Senate support, BU can expect to receive $1.1 million.

The sensors facility will bring together researchers in chemistry, biology and engineering who are developing sensors and sensory materials that can identify and remediate threats to public health as well as national security. Among the projects already in development are an “electronic nose” for security and environmental monitoring, unique fluorescent sensors for detecting anthrax and other biological toxins, and acoustic sensors to determine the direction of troop or equipment movements.

The facility will be housed at the 20-acre Innovative Technologies Complex being developed on the eastern edge of campus. During Phase I, the University plans to convert the existing 95,000-square-foot general-purpose building into a “mixed-use” research, training and technology transfer facility with a corporate incubator.

The Advanced Sensor Design and Threat Detection Facility will be among the specialized research centers housed in the complex. This facility will be a unique resource not only for SUNY but for the entire Northeast region, according to Frances Carr, vice president for research.

“The innovations that will emerge from the facility will have a significant impact on basic University research and will enhance our academic programs in engineering and the life sciences,” said Carr, whose office led the effort to secure the federal appropriation. “But there will be an important impact on the regional economy.”

Among those on hand at the announcement were representatives of IBM and Endicott Interconnect Technologies, as well as the Greater Binghamton Coalition.

“With these community and business partners, we look forward to using this facility to advance economic recovery efforts in the Southern Tier – to strengthen existing businesses and grow new ones on the basis of innovation and discovery,” DeFleur said.

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